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March 30, 2022

Podcast: Give Green Day is investment in MSU’s future

President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. elaborates on topics he discusses in his March 2022 Spartan Community Letter.

The sixth annual Give Green Day was on March 15. This year, more than $1.34 million was raised from over 7,000 gifts for causes including alumni club scholarships, the MSU Center for Survivors Survivor Emergency Fund, and several college-based funds supporting Spartan students of today and tomorrow. That's an increase over last year's $1.2 million raised.

“It really is impressive how people came together. The number of people who are contributing continues to grow every year,” Stanley says. “I'm impressed by our incredible alumni. I'm also impressed by our faculty and staff who gave during this time. Obviously, they give so much to the university daily, and it means a lot to me to see them kicking in afterwards as well and parting with some of their well-earned treasure to support the university.

“We still want people to give when it's not Give Green Day. But the day is a way in which the campus comes together, and we can see the support and the tremendous affection and investment people are willing to make in MSU.”

A person who will help lead giving in the future is Kim Tobin, who you recently selected to be our next vice president for University Advancement. She arrives on May 1. 

“Kim was an outstanding candidate who was a very powerful choice of the select search committee that worked on this search. She comes from Colorado State University, which is another land grant university where she's led them to several very successful campaigns and has been raising in the $150 million range and above during her time at CSU, which is a smaller institution than Michigan State University.

“If you spend any time in her presence, she's incredibly enthusiastic about what she does, and she really cares about the institution where she's been, CSU. And now she's learning a lot about MSU and learning to care about it as well. Her enthusiasm, energy, and knowledge and sophistication in terms of fundraising are going to serve us very well. I'm looking forward to great things. I do want to say how much I've appreciated all the work that Marti Heil has done. She's been amazing. Marti is leading us to a great year this year.

“We're doing very well. We're ahead of where we want to be. Everybody should keep giving, but we're ahead of where we want to be. But it's really going to be good to have Kim on board. She'll bring some new perspectives and energy to the position.”

Financial stewardship is an ongoing imperative for MSU and an element of MSU's Strategic Plan 2030. We recently issued $500 million in century bonds, which mature in 100 years.

“Century bonds were things I wasn't familiar with until I came to Michigan State University, but our chief financial officer and vice president Lisa Frace had some experience with century bonds. Basically, it's a vehicle by which you can borrow money and pay it back at the end of 100 years. We're borrowing $500 million. In a hundred years, we'll have to pay that $500 million back. In the meantime, we pay interest on the outcoming balance during that hundred-year period. 2122 is when this becomes due.

“It's an opportunity for us to get dollars for capital projects at a very good price right now. Interest rates remain near historic lows. We have money that we can utilize. The idea is to create a replenishing fund with this $500 million and use it for projects that will have some type of return on investment. That could be a parking garage. That could be a laboratory. There are a lot of things we can do with this, but the idea is to keep the fund going so we'll have a continuous fund for capital projects that have some return on investment and use that money for a very long period.”

You attended the ribbon cutting of McLaren Health Care's new health campus in the University Health Park on the south end of campus. The $600 million facility includes a new 240 bed hospital, a multi-specialty outpatient health care center, and a Karmanos Cancer Center in partnership with MSU Health Care. It offers new facilities for MSU's education, research, and service to our regional community in collaboration with McLaren.

“It’s the beginning of an even closer collaboration with McLaren. They're a very outstanding health care provider, and this is another step forward in building closer collaborations. We have collaborations with them. We have collaborations with Spectrum. We have collaborations with Sparrow. And we have our Henry Ford affiliation, which is a deep-set partnership as well. We're going to continue to work with people to improve health throughout the state, but it’s nice to be able to do something major right in our own backyard.”

On March 16, we launched the second Know More campus survey to follow up on the first one conducted in 2019 to measure the culture, perceptions, and policies associated with relationship violence and sexual misconduct.

“It's so important that we understand what our campus culture and climate are like and what people are experiencing on campus. Really the only way to do this is by this kind of very confidential survey so we can get information and people can feel comfortable telling us what's happening on campus. We're hoping things have improved since we did the survey in 2019. But if they haven't, or even if they've not improved that much, we need to find ways to do things better.

“But without knowing what the problems are, we can't come up with the solutions. We had about 15,000 individuals fill out this survey before. That's a great total for the university. We're a little behind schedule in terms of people filling out right now. I think St. Patrick's Day and the NCAA Tournament may have had something to do with that. I encourage people to fill it out and complete it.

“It's so important to help guide what we do in relationship violence and sexual misconduct, and to look at how we treat each other on the campus. Civility and other issues are addressed by this survey. Please fill it out students, faculty and staff. It really does make a difference for us.”

You recently had the fun opportunity to honor an amazing faculty member and teacher by announcing this year's President's Distinguished Teaching Award in a surprise classroom visit. College of Social Science Associate professor john Waller is an exemplary scholar and teacher well deserving of the award. His scholarship, enthusiasm, and mentorship are highly admirable and a great example of the world class education and support for student success at MSU.

“Our faculty are amazing, and this is always a fun thing. This is now I think the third time I've done this. Last time I did it, I broke into a Zoom meeting. But this time I was able to come in person, which was much better. Professor Waller was very funny. As we walked into the room – I was there, the provost was there, and the dean of his college, Mary Finn, was there. He looked at one of the students and said in a whisper, ‘I think I'm being fired.’ Of course, it was exactly the opposite. We were there to congratulate him for his excellence in teaching.

“We can't say enough about the quality of education that one can receive at MSU. Faculty and staff and graduate students who have teaching roles are all critical in getting this done. We very much appreciate their efforts, and it's nice to be able to thank them. My thanks to the donors who provide this kind of support for these awards because it really does make a difference in our ability to recognize and retain these great faculty.”

Can you reflect a bit on March was Women's History Month and Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month?

“These reflections are so important. We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life, but it's important to be reminded of the things that are happening around us and the things that have happened in history that really matter. Women's History Month is very important. During Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month, there'll be several celebrations. You learn about culture and history that adds to the experience of being at MSU. One of the advantages of being at a university is taking time to celebrate these events and recognize and look back and forward at the same. I encourage everybody to be a part of it.”

President Stanley, around these parts, we read a calendar January, February, Izzo, April, May, etc.

“I had a chance to go to Greenville and see the team play those two games. What I told the people I talked to there was we can't take this for granted. It's 24 years in a row now we've gone to the NCAA Tournament, and it's easy to take that for granted. But please don't. I was at Stony Brook University before I came here, and I had the opportunity to preside over the first time Stony Brook University had been to the Division I NCAA tournament. Our campus came together and enjoyed it in a very big way.

“To have that opportunity every year for 24 years in a row is spectacular. We've got to enjoy it. I thought the first-round game was a thriller against Davidson. So wonderful to win. We had Duke on the ropes, but they wiggled away and ended up winning the game. But it was a great game. People were not considering us serious contenders in that game, and we showed that we absolutely were. You can never discount a Tom Izzo team, particularly in March. We'll be back. You can count on that. Tom will continue to bring us back. Maintaining that level of excellence speaks volumes about his leadership in the program and, of course, the student athletes who've elected to participate with us.

“It's been a very good semester. We're in a good place right now. If you haven't been boosted, get your booster shot because that's important for keeping the campus safe. Overall, I'm very pleased with where we're going as we work towards about six weeks to go to complete spring semester.”

MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.

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